Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails. Proverbs 19:21; Man plans and God laughs. Yiddish proverb and the thirteenth studio album by American hip hop group Public Enemy.
I gave much thought this weekend to living in the moment. It’s in fact, the only way to live. The past is gone and the future is unpredictable. Yet I waste much time regretting the past and worrying about the future. I gave the matter much thought on an intellectual plane, until it was driven home by reality.
I had simple plans for Sunday afternoon, take a nap, watch the Saints while finishing up my Christmas cards. For Monday I was going to prepare for and have a meeting with a client. However, I woke from the planned nap with a burning fever and chills to the extent I couldn’t stop shaking. I could have cared less about the Saints or Christmas cards. I rescheduled my Monday meeting. These were not monumental plans, but they could have been.
I don’t really think God was laughing at my plans. I do think my 24 hour bout with fever and chills was within God’s purpose. I think He was reinforcing my thoughts about the importance of the present.
I waste the present. I have to do lists and stacks of to do projects. For much of my work life I operated with a touch-things-just-once rule. When I got a letter I dealt with it right then. I tried to answer questions during a phone call and not with a promise to “get back” to the person later. I have gotten out of that habit. Things in a to do list and in a to do stack become a cloud on our present. They stay in the back of our minds preventing us from enjoying the moment.
I also find that I limit my presents. It’s so easy to get into habits and patterns. Doing the same things and having the same experiences each day. Recently I have been taking my grandson to school. He has to be there by 6:45. That means getting up early and leaving the house while it’s still dark. It also means being out and about when the sun comes up. I have totally enjoyed the hustle and bustle of the early morning. The dawning of the new day as the night gives way to day. It’s not a big deal, but it has been a fresh experience. A new present.
I don’t focus on the present. I live in a world of interruptions. Phones ring. My iPhone is constantly chiming or buzzing with emails or tweets or “notifications.” These external interruptions fight for attention with internal distractions: hunger pangs; what I need to do next, or tomorrow or next week; what I forgot to do yesterday, last week, or last years; will the Saints ever win again?; who needs to be added to my Christmas card list; what should I get Rosemary for Christmas?
Fever and chills reminded me to be “in the moment.” Now if I can just figure out how to do that.